The Department of Labor's fiduciary rule has many flaws, but one part of the rule that was to be commended (as I did here) was the restrictions placed on variable annuities in retirement portfolios. Now the Department of Labor wants to water down these rules, and allow the wolves of Wall St. to once again slaughter unsuspecting savers with extreme fees and terms that put customers at a distinct disadvantage. Today Michael Wursthorn writes in the Wall Street Journal that the rule roll-back is meant to appease the very wolves who have been taking advantage of retirees for years, the sellers … [Read more...]
Archives for January 2017
The Transformation Opportunity of the Supergrid
Here The Economist explains how the supergrid could transform the energy landscape. With ultra-high-voltage direct-current electricity, grids can be connected to power generation facilities over long distances. This has broad implications for renewable power generation as well as fossil fuel powered generation. THE winds of the Oklahoma panhandle have a bad reputation. In the 1930s they whipped its over-tilled topsoil up into the billowing black blizzards of the Dust Bowl. The winds drove people, Steinbeck’s dispossessed, away from their livelihoods and west, to California. Today, the … [Read more...]
This Miracle Tech Revolution Will Change the World
Here comes the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) revolution, writes Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Some call the Internet of Things (IoT) the Intelligence of Things or the Internet of Everything. By whatever name, futurists say it heralds the moment when sensor-driven data connects everything to everything else and artificial and human intelligence become a seamless whole—the planet and virtually everything in and on it transformed into a single, thinking entity. That is the visionary view. The consensus is astonishing enough: we are in the earliest phases of a technological … [Read more...]
Are Trump’s Tweets Driving a Breathtaking New Frenzy of Trading?
Lately, times have been tough for brokerages relying on trading. Between getting squeezed by the flow of investors to index funds and investment advisors who act as fiduciaries of client money rather than securities distributors, business has been rough on brokerages where trading fees pay the bills. Brian Hershberg writes on the WSJ's MoneyBeat blog that the Tweets of incoming president Donald Trump have boosted online trading by creating volatility around certain companies' shares. Discount brokerages are hoping President-elect Donald Trump keeps things interesting with his tweets after he … [Read more...]
This is What Happens When Amazon Puts a Robot Assistant in Your Home
Amazon’s massive cloud computing infrastructure generates billions of dollars in revenue and is now at the forefront of the company's business model. Here WIRED explains Amazon’s bold new world of technological innovation. YOU CAN’T WALK the sprawling floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center without tripping over a speaker, an appliance, or even a robot or two that supports Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant is clearly the darling of CES 2017. This may well be the year you switch from tapping and typing on touchscreens to simply shouting commands. Many platforms, from Apple’s Siri and … [Read more...]
Bond Bear Market Watch: Are we there yet?
We continue to watch the key 2.60% yield level on 10-year Treasuries. A meaningful break above the 2.60% yield level will likely signal the end of the over three-decade secular bull market in bonds and the beginning of a new secular bear market in bonds. The 10 year yield has retreated from its highs of late last year, but still remains within striking distance of the key 2.60% level. Savvy investors should continue to watch the direction of longer-term interest rates as they are likely to set the tone for a broader range of asset prices in 2017. … [Read more...]
Is the New Investment Revolution in Cyber Security?
New cyber attacks are hitting businesses and governments around the world each day. Every time a new technology is created, such as the cloud, the Internet of Things, and big data platforms, they expand the possibilities of human endeavor, but also create new avenues for criminals to exploit in their efforts to cause damage, coerce cooperation, or simply steal money or secrets. In a wide ranging paper embedded below, Hewlett-Packard explains the State of Security Operations today. In it, HP examines regional trends in security, the differences in approach between small businesses and large … [Read more...]
In the Rich New World, Natural Gas is the Future
Gas production statistics, provided by ExxonMobil's Energy Factor, offer a stunning look into the future of energy consumption worldwide. To understand why natural gas is poised to become an even more predominant fuel in the 21st century, one has to also understand how the world is getting richer. This is especially true across large parts of Asia and China where, in a relatively short time, millions of people joined the ranks of the middle class. This economic expansion is igniting unprecedented consumption of energy as people tap some of their disposable income to purchase automobiles, … [Read more...]
The Stupid Advice of an Influential Fed President
Bill Dudley is the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He is a member of Janet Yellen's inner circle. Dudley is the only Fed official not appointed by the President who gets a permanent vote on monetary policy. In a speech yesterday, Dudley seemed to endorse the idea that what the economy really needs is for more homeowners to again start using their homes as ATM machines. This was of course what boosted economic growth during the real estate bubble, but as most Americans found out (but apparently not Mr. Dudley) home-equity extraction is an unsustainable and dangerous source of … [Read more...]
Is the World Ready for an Epic Wave of DDoS Cyber Crime?
A new form of cyber crime is rearing its ugly head on the internet. It's called DDoS extortion or DDoS ransom. Like the very popular ransom-ware attacks that demand money in order to regain control of compromised systems, DDoS ransom attackers demand money, usually in the form of untraceable Bitcoins, to halt or prevent a DDoS attack on a web site. For many businesses, web sites have become the main platform for sales, but a DDoS attack on a site could knock it out for quite some time, forcing the owners to forgo any business that could have been done in the meantime. Below AT&T has … [Read more...]